Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX in Nikon mount (77mm filters, 21.9 oz./620g, about $450). enlarge. Also available in Canon EOS mount. The biggest source of support for this free website is when you use these links, especially directly to it in Nikon mount at Adorama, in Nikon mount at Amazon, in Canon EOS mount at Adorama or in Canon EOS mount at Amazon when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.
Good: Very slightly wider wide-angle range than 18mm zooms.
Bad: I wouldn't buy this lens because it has no VR, no IS, and uses a primitive AF system lacking instant manual-focus override.
This Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is optically among the poorest DX lenses I've ever used, it lacks the VR or IS needed for consistently sharp hand-held results in the telephoto range, and it demands you stop and move a switch on the camera to select between auto and manual focus. I'm surprised Tokina calls this an AT-X lens, an appelation historically reserved only for their best lenses. This 16.5-135mm just doesn't cut it.
This Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 comes in in both Nikon and Canon EOS mounts. I am addressing the Nikon mount version here; you may make the usual extrapolations for Canon.
Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DX. enlarge.
Tokina calls this the Tokina 16.5-135mm F3.5-5.6 DX.
AT-X: Advanced Technology-seX.
15 elements in 9 groups.
Three of these are aspherical: one of molded glass, and two "compound:" plastic glued to glass.
Two of these are SD super-low dispersion glass, similar to Nikon's ED glass.
IF: Internal focusing.
82º - 12.º
Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 at minimum aperture. enlarge.
9 rounded blades.
Stops down to f/22-36.
Focal Length top
1.7 feet (0.5m), marked.
One must let the AF system focus for infinity.
Yes, but very basic.
Moves in and out with zooming, but never rotates.
Tokina specifies 3.1" (78mm) long by 3.46 in. (80.0mm) diameter.
21.860 oz. (619.75g), measured, Nikon version.
Tokina specifies 21.5 oz. (610g).
Tokina BH-777 hood, included.
The plastic bayonet hood is included.
It's fuzzy on the inside.
Made in Japan.
Serial numbers printed on both box and warranty card.
Single-wall cardboard box, glossy printed.
Folded corrugated cardboard formers inside. Lens, with reversed hood attached, inside clear plastic bag inside cardboard.
Paperwork on top of cardboard, just under box cover.
Instruction leaflet included.
This Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DX is poor. It's not that sharp, it has plenty of distortion,it has visible exposure variation with focal length changes, it has no VR or IS for sharp hand-held tele shots, and its AF system requires one to stop and fiddle with switches to go between auto and manual, and these are just the biggest problems.
This lens might have been interesting back in 1999 when Nikon invented the world's first DX DSLR, but not today.
On Nikon, this Tokina lens uses 1980s technology: a rotating screw coupling driven from the camera. Therefore, since Nikon's cheapest D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100 and D5000 have no AF motor, this lens will not autofocus on them.
Autofocus is fast enough.
One full turn of the AF screw pulls focus in from infinity to 10 feet (3 meters).
A motor in your camera has to turn to make this lens focus, which could disturb sensitive subjects. It is not silent.
WARNING: The manual focus ring turns backwards on Nikon, so your focus-assist arrows will point you in the wrong direction.
Manual focus mode requires moving a switch on your camera.
Once you do that, and if you ever get over it moving in the wrong direction, it works OK.
Bokeh, the character of out of focus areas, not simply how far out of focus they are, is very good. This isn't a fast lens, but what is out of focus is reasonably undistracting and smooth.
Capped Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6. enlarge.
The caps are decent, but I'd replace the rear cap with a real Nikon rear cap ($8) which feels a little better.
Color rendition seems the same as my Nikon 18-200mm VR.
The Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DX has strong pincushion distortion throughout most of its range.
Try these figures in Photoshop's lens distortion filter to minimize it. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
* Waviness remains after correction.
Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DX. enlarge.
Ergonomics are poor by 2011 standards, because the focus system still demands manual intervention just to change between auto and manual focus modes.
The zoom ring does not have uniform drag throughout its range: it gets much tighter around 50-70mm,. This makes zooming unpleasant having to push through that range to get from one setting to another.
Falloff is only visible wide-open at the zoom extremes.
The biggest problem is exposure variation with aperture and with focal length; the frame-to-frame variations seen below are also visible in actual shooting.
I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background.
All 77mm filters work great. The plastic threads don't rotate, although they do pump in and out with zooming.
There's no problem with vignetting, even with a thick (7.2mm excluding rear threads) rotating polarizers.
In fact, you can use another regular filter (4.8mm thick excluding rear threads) along with a thick polarizer, and just barely get a little vignetting at the 16.5mm setting, and none anywhere else. This is with a stack measuring 12mm!
Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, for instance, a couple having a conversation, the image from the Tokina 16.5-135 3.5-5.6 gets slightly smaller as focused more closely at the wide end, and significantly smaller as focused more closely at the tele end.
The lateral color fringes are so bad that the D7000 can't completely correct them automatically
Therefore there can be visible color fringes at the 135mm end.
Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6, Nikon mount. enlarge.
This Tokina is a well-made plastic lens. The rear mount is metal, but it grinds when mounted and unmounted.
Rear Fore Barrel
Plastic, rubber covered.
Mid and Aft Barrel Exterior
Plastic; rubber covered.
Seem like plastic and metal.
Sometimes sticky or gritty when mounting, not always smooth like Nikon's lenses.
Black and gold debossed metal plate.
The serial number is printed on a glued-on sticker on the bottom rear of barrel
Ass-Gasket (rain seal at mount)
Noises When Shaken
Internal Edge Blackening
Something I've never seen in a new lens is that some of the black paint applied to the edges of some glass elements to minimize internal reflections has some white specks or bubbles in it. This is reminiscent of what's sometimes seen on 1950s Schneider lenses.
The Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 isn't very sharp.
This Tokina lens is worst at the ends of the zoom range and at its larger apertures, or pretty much most of the places that people will use it.
At 135mm, it looks like you'd expect from a plastic lens.
With its almost always circular 9-bladed diaphragm, this Tokina 16.5-135 is unlikely to make any meaningful sunstars.
The Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 seems pretty tough as plastic-barreled lenses go, so long as you don't bash the front of an extended lens and crack the zooming system.
There is no AF motor to die, so this lens ought to still be kicking in a few decades, unless it has internal plastic zoom cylinders to crack.
The zooming feels nasty. It gets much stiffer around 50-70mm, making it unpleasant to zoom.
If zooming doesn't feel good, even if this lens was sharp, which it's not, I'd pass on this lens. If it's not fun, why do it?
On Nikon, the 16.5mm end reads as 17mm in the EXIF data, and the lens codes as "17-135mm."
This is a poor lens. Look elsewhere.
16.5mm is almost identical to 18mm on the wide end. Try it and see; I can barely see any difference.
This Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DX is far inferior to Nikon's 18-200mm VR.
For just $200 more, the Nikon 18-200 is more than twice the lens optically, and adds instant manual-focus override, and most importantly, adds VR for better hand-held sharpness at the long end.
Never try to save money when buying lenses. Skip this Tokina. If you can't afford the Nikon 18-200 today, stick with an 18-55mm or any other similar Nikon lens.
16.5mm is the same as 18mm; there isn't enough difference to give anyone any reason to settle for this Tokina on a Canon.
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